Scareware Sellers Facing Hefty Charges

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Scareware Sellers Facing Hefty Charges

Kevin R. Smith

We have good news to share today in the fight against scareware, scumware, and malware purveyors.

Robert McMillan of the IDG News Service writes in an article appearing at NetworkWorld about scareware sellers facing charges.

Three men are facing federal fraud charges for allegedly raking in more than US$100 million while running an illegal "scareware" business that tricked victims into installing bogus software.

The backstory on this is that the products offered by Innovative Marketing, a so-called antivirus company sold products including:

  • WinFixer
  • Antivirus 2008
  • Malware Alarm
  • VirusRemover 2008

were nothing but scams.

Here's how the scam worked:

Innovative Marketing is alleged to've setup phony ad agencies which purchased online ad space from legit companies. They'd then have these legit companies display ads and pop-ups, which to most folks, looked like genuine error error messages and antivirus scans.

We've all seen these ads; unfortunately, a lot of folks took the bait, becoming victims of the scams, and plonking down their hard earned cash to rid themselves of what they believed were genuine threats on their PCs.

The thing is, a lot of people didn't take the bait though, and in fact, the article says, The company's products generated so many consumer complaints that the FTC brought a civil action against Innovative Marketing and Byte Hosting in 2008, effectively putting them out of business.

On Wednesday, May 26th, a Chicago grand jury handed down criminal charges to the company for their actions. Because of that and if they're convicted, the three could face time in prison.

Worth mentioning though is that two of the three involved, the ones that operated Innovated Marketing, both live overseas. (Bjorn Sundin is believed to live in Sweden; Shaileshkumar Jain is believed to live in Ukraine.)

The one U.S. resident, James Reno, the man behind the company operating the call centers that handled customer calls with a company called, "Byte Hosting Internet Services," was expected to turn himself in for arraignment.

Where does that leave consumers who purchased their products?

As for getting money back, sadly, that seems to be a very slim possibility at this point--even if the Justice Department successfully seizes funds as part of the conviction; as for getting consumers' PCs cleaned-up and the process to remove malware these guys installed, to our knowledge all real antivirus software can quickly, safely rid PCs of it.


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